Bill to broaden places firearms can be carried advances

    BRIEF

    A bill that aims to broaden the places people can legally carry firearms — and strike down the Montana Board of Regents’ authority to regulate guns on college campuses — advanced Monday on party lines.

    The House Judiciary Committed voted 12-7 to move House Bill 102 forward. The bill is proposed by Rep. Seth Berglee, a Joliet Republican.

    In a speech that committee chairman and Billings Republican Barry Usher characterized as lengthy, Rep. Ed Stafman asked legislators to amend the bill to ensure the Board of Regents its retain constitutional responsibility to regulate firearms on college campuses. The Bozeman Democrat who lives near Montana State University said parents expect higher education officials to keep their children safe.

    The committee voted 12-7 against that amendment, also on party lines. Pointing to the U.S. Constitution and the oath lawmakers take to uphold it, Rep. Derek Skees pushed back against the argument the Board of Regents should have the power to make decisions about the right to bear arms on Montana campuses.

    “My U.S. Constitution on the Second Amendment says, ‘shall not be infringed,’” said Skees, a Kalispell Republican. “It doesn’t say, ‘Oh, if the Board of Regents disagrees, then we can infringe this.’”

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    Keila Szpaller
    Keila Szpaller is deputy editor of the Daily Montanan and covers education. In Montana since 1998, she loves hiking in Glacier National Park, wandering the grounds of the Archie Bray and sitting on her front porch with friends. Before joining States Newsroom Montana, she served as city editor of the Missoulian, the largest news outlet in western Montana. She worked there from 2006 to 2020. As a Missoulian reporter, she was named a co-fellow by the Education Writers Association to report on a series about economic mobility; grantee of the Society of Environmental Journalists for a project on conservation from the U.S. to Africa; and Kiplinger Fellow in Digital Media and Public Affairs Journalism. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune and Missoula Independent, and she earned her master’s in journalism from the University of Montana. She lives in Missoula with her husband, Brock, who is also her favorite chef, and her pup, Henry, who is her favorite adventure companion. She believes she deserves to wear the T-shift with this saying: “World’s most mediocre runner.”